A top chef has been found dead with a rifle by his side at his home in an apparent suicide just months after his restaurant was named the best in the world.
Benoit Violier, 44, who ran the three Michelin Star Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Switzerland, is thought to have shot himself, police said.
'Late in the afternoon [on Sunday], police... went to Crissier where they discovered at his home the body of Mr Benoit Violier,' the force said in a statement, adding that it appeared he had shot himself.
Top chef: Benoit Violier's establishment - Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville - was named the best in the world
Tributes: Flowers have been placed outside the entrance of Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Switzerland
Police said an investigation had been opened into his death and said Violier's family had asked for privacy 'to be allowed to mourn in peace'.
According to Swiss news site 24 heures, the chef was due to attend the launch of the new Michelin Guide in Paris on Monday.
A minute's silence was observed before the start of the Michelin Guide ceremony on Monday.
Violier had held onto his three Michelin stars for his restaurant when its Swiss guide was published in November.
Even so, his death cast a shadow on the announcement of the new French guide, the biggest day in the country's gastronomic calendar.
News of his death sparked a wave of sadness as contemporaries extolled the French-Swiss chef's talents.
Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville, in Crissier, near the southwestern Swiss city of Lausanne, was in December named the best of 1,000 top eateries across 48 countries ranked by France's 'La Liste'.
Violier took over the reins at Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville with his wife Brigitte in 2012 (pictured together)
Tragedy: Top chef Benoit Violier was found dead months after his restaurant was named the best in the world
The gastronomic guide is the French foreign ministry's answer to the Britain-based World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Celebrating the win, Violier said at the time: 'It's wonderful, it's exceptional for us. This ranking will only motivate our team more.'
Violier took over the reins at the restaurant with his wife Brigitte in 2012, following the retirement of his mentor Philippe Rochat, another towering figure in French cuisine. Rochat died after falling ill while cycling last year.
Opened nearly 40 years ago, the restaurant offers menus ranging from 195 Swiss francs (£135) to 380 Swiss francs (£260).
Born in the French coastal city of La Rochelle into a family of winemakers, Violier's career went from strength to strength over the years.
He was named Chef of the Year in 2013 by the influential Gault & Millau guide, second only to the Michelin guide.
Gong: Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville was named the best of 1,000 top eateries across 48 countries ranked by France's 'La Liste'. Pictured: Benoit Violier with the trophy
Award-winning: Benoit Violier, 44, who ran the three Michelin Star Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville (pictured)
WHO WAS BENOIT VIOLIER?
Known as a keen hunter, game was a mainstay in Violier's signature dishes and he was known for using local, seasonal products.
He obtained Swiss nationality two years ago, according to Swiss daily Blick.
Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire was one of many of Violier's peers who expressed shock at his death late Sunday.
'My thoughts go out to Benoit Violier's family. Very sad news about an extremely talented chef,' he wrote on Twitter.
Swiss chef Fredy Girardet, a friend of Violier and his wife who once ran the restaurant in Crissier, said he could 'see no motive for such an act'.
He told Tribune de Genève: 'He was a brilliant young man, with enormous talent and an impressive work potential. He gave the impression of being perfect. This news is so sad.'
Paul Bocuse - dubbed the 'pope' of French cuisine - described Violier on Twitter as a 'great chef, great man, huge talent'.
Paul Bocuse - dubbed the 'pope' of French cuisine - described Violier as a 'great chef, great man, huge talent'
Opened nearly 40 years ago, Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville offers menus ranging from 195 Swiss francs (£135) to 380 Swiss francs (£260)
Star chef Jean Francois Piege, also of France, tweeted: 'An immense chef, an immense sadness, thoughts go out to his family and his team.'
Violier's death was not, however, the first apparent suicide of a renowned French chef in recent years.
Bernard Loiseau shot himself with his hunting rifle in 2003 after the Gault & Millau guide lowered the rating of his renowned establishment in the Burgundy region.
Despite his tragic death, the guide stripped a star from the restaurant, and Loiseau's widow Dominique said on Monday she was 'shocked' by the decision to reduce the Relais Bernard Loiseau to two stars.
Four Michelin three-star chefs, meanwhile, closed down their restaurants from 1996 to 2008.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
Bernard Loiseau (pictured) shot himself with his hunting rifle in 2003 after the Gault & Millau guide lowered the rating of his establishment